of water temperature and how these changes affect muskie movement. Most importantly, where we expect to locate fish within specific temperature ranges. Understanding the affect water temperature has on predicting muskie locations is arguably the most critical dynamic of successful muskie fishing. After all, if your not fishing where the muskies are, you won’t catch them. These observations are based on a combination of many years of fishing experience, biological fact, and results of tracking studies. This is a guideline in attempting to learn the “why’s” of the sport. By no means an exact science but a solid baseline from which to start searching for these nomadic fish. Each water temperature benchmark in the “rule of 7’s” signifies an identifiable and significant change in this fish’s behavior. These rules apply primarily to the northern regions of the muskies range. However, with slight modifications of extreme periods, all can benefit from applying these guidelines. The observations are based on surface temperatures, realizing that during certain circumstances, surface temperatures are indeed relative to only a few inches of the water column. (ie, severe fronts) Therefore, be prepared to apply some common sense in this approach to fishing. Looking back at past issues of “Musky Hunter” you will find evidence of my studies relating to periods of consumption based on water temperatures. Many anglers have written me regarding their success based on their knowledge of this theory since the publishing of my observations. We are about to take them, and you, to the next level. A full and comprehensive understanding of water temperature based understanding of the effects these temperature ranges have on the muskie, and their environment throughout the open water season. But most importantly, an easy to remember system for forecasting fish location. To apply all season, under varying conditions. 47 Degrees and rising: At 47 degrees we experience the first of two compression periods. Understand during compression periods, changes relating to EVERYTHING will occur very quickly. Muskies are generally in the spawning cycle during this period. They are for he most part utilizing very shallow water, absorbing the warmest water available in the system. Areas offering the most direct sunlight such as those in the northern or better yet northwest sections generally receive the most direct sunlight and will warm fastest. They are also influenced by the stacking of warmer water due to southerly winds and are somewhat protected from the effects of harsh cold fronts often associated with this period. In most cases the female muskies will simply roam favorable areas in preparation for delivery, often escorted my as many as two to five males. Under the right conditions the male will engage the female by bumping, nudging and in some cases even biting the ripe female. This ritual entices the female to drop here eggs which are then fertilized by accompanying males. The ritual is random at best, which is exactly why nature has hard wired the males to work in concert, to achieve satisfactory recruitment. In most states and provinces this occurs during a closed season and anglers are prohibited from fishing for muskie. In the rare circumstance where fishing might be legal. One should be aware of the negative implications of pursuing these fish during the spawning process where the fishery is at all dependent on natural reproduction. After all she is carrying some 250,000 eggs, which in most cases will seldom yield 1% survival in the wild. 57 Degrees: Often associated with open season. Muskies will still be shallow and in most cases not far from their spawning locations. This is a prime time to seek them out the the system’s first emergent weed growth. Prime areas are shoreline associated weedlines both inside and out. And shallow rock piles and rock weed combinations. All are prime territories for recovering females. They create a sanctuary for everything during this period. Other smaller forage species are staging in the these areas in preparation for their reproductive cycles. Combined with crayfish, the muskies have a virtual smorgas board of forage to chose from. However, beware that things soon change drastically. Shorty after exceeding the 57 degree “7” Degrees Of Muskie Location cont.
benchmark, at about 59 degrees, tracking studies have shown a sharp increase in movement to summer ranges. Keep in mind on a small lake this might mean a few hundred yards of travel. However, on a big lake this may mean many miles of travel! It’s all relative. This is referred to as the post spawn transition period. As a calendar point of reference this temperature will often meet your at the boat landing on opening day, at least here in our home state of Minnesota. So plan accordingly, an early or late spring may have a dramatic effect on fish location. During this move to summer ranges fish will often hang up in transition areas. Transition areas are spots such as soft tapering points and flats that can hold numbers of fish during this period. Especially during warming trends where the need to seek immediate depth is not desired. These are key areas muskie anglers need be aware of. An often overlooked area during this time of year is the open water transition areas. Muskies seeking shallow water very often suspend shallow over deep water. Open water areas just off these transition areas, or confined open water areas are prime for casting and especially trolling techniques. Especially during this temperature period. 67: Home is where your heart is. 67 degrees is where we should we should expect muskies to be established in their summer ranges. And the saying “home is where your heart is” holds especially true for muskies. All though the fish do still cover some ground, they tend to use areas that suit there biological needs. And often re-visit several structures within these areas. Often several times a day, depending on day to day weather patterns and forage availability. Others remain homebodies and will travel very little. Remember, this will be relative to the size of the water your fishing. This period is generally marked by the beginning of the majority of the muskie fishing pressure. For the most part muskies are now found on classic, easy to recognize structures, such as points, saddles, aprons, weedbeds and sunken structures. In other words, they are at home everywhere. A few fish get hung up in the shallows continuing to take advantage of post spawn panfish which would have just finished their duties only a few degrees ago and an even fewer amount of fish will gravitate to the extreme shallows which in some systems will in fact become their summer haunts. As the days progress, warming water will cause an increase in metabolism, thus defining more apparent feeding periods (Please see previously published reference chart). However, the areas in which they will choose to feed will truly be dependent on more localized weather patterns and of course relative to existing water temperatures. During this period anglers will constantly be tested, simply because of the fact the fish are located throughout the system and concentrations will be loosely defined. During such periods, if the temperatures have been in a con- Kyle Brickson of Duluth MN with a very nice late summer-early fall muskie from Lake Of The Woods, Ontario Canada